Says Aliyev’s “Zangezur Corridor” Scheme Must Respect Territorial Integrity and Sovereignty of Nations
The Russian Foreign Ministry, in a statement issued on Saturday, cautioned western powers to tread carefully when it came to their involvement with Armenia and Azerbaijan, urging them to take the “changed realities in the region” into consideration when advancing their policies.
Moscow also warned about what it called an “external order” attempting to sow anti-Russian sentiments surrounding the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
The foreign ministry statement was issued to mark the first anniversary of the November 9 agreement, which ended military actions in Karabakh, but forced Armenia to surrender territory in Armenia and Artsakh to Azerbaijan.
At the same time, the Russian foreign ministry commented on Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev’s plan to create the so-called “Zangezur Corridor,” which would link mainland Azerbaijan with Nakhichevan—and Turkey—through Armenia’s Syunik Province, where its forces have been camped out since May.
Moscow said efforts to unblock links in the region by creating transportation routes must be “based on respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the countries through which they pass.”
“Russia is not claiming a monopoly in its relations and communication with Armenia and Azerbaijan, although we have longstanding bonds and close alliances that include large-scale partnerships on all fronts with those countries and peoples,” TASS quoted the Russian foreign ministry as saying in the statement. “We stand for effective use of the international community’s current potential, which must take into account the changed regional realities.”
Russia’s foreign ministry pointed out that a year has passed since the November 9 statement was adopted, so social media and online statements claiming that “Russia’s peacekeeping efforts were allegedly aimed at ‘breaking Nagorno-Karabakh away,’ ‘handing it over’ to Azerbaijan, and turning Armenia into a ‘protectorate’ can be safely refuted.”
“These statements are populist,” said the foreign ministry. “They show [the existence of] an obvious external order and have nothing to do with reality.”
The statement emphasized that the Moscow-initiated trilateral agreements and mechanisms were not imposed on the sides, but were based on a “verified balance of interests” and included a very respectful attitude toward the sovereignty and interests of Baku and Yerevan.
“Some of our initiatives could not be agreed upon, and that is normal. On the other hand, the agreement that has already been confirmed is, as they say, hard-won and is effectively implemented in practice,” the Moscow stressed.
The foreign ministry further noted that Moscow is ready to support the start of negotiations over the Armenian-Azerbaijani border determination for future delimitation and demarcation.
The statement also noted that Moscow is determined to continue actively working with the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs. “The Co-Chairs plan to visit the region and continue contacts in the 3+2 format [Armenia, Azerbaijan, Russia, France and the U.S.].”
The statement revealed that as a result of the eight meetings of the working group comprised of the deputy prime ministers of Armenia, Russia and Azerbaijan that is tasked with determining ways to “unblock” transportation links between Armenia and Azerbaijan, a report was presented which “details specific railway and automobile routes for the restoration of communication between Armenia and Azerbaijan with access to transport communications of neighboring countries.”
These routes, the ministry explained, would increase the “transit appeal of the region and would attract additional investments. It was stressed that on this occasion additional prospects are emerging for Russia and Armenia over the realization of the North-South International corridor.”
“It’s no less important, especially in light of the situation created over the so-called Zangezur Corridor, which has been exaggerated by the media, that all participants of the trilateral working group have agreed that the newly created transportation routes will function based on respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the countries through which they pass,” said the Russian foreign ministry.